I plan low key activities for the first day of my annual visit to Tokyo. This trip I decided to explore a Shinto Shrine and Buddhist Temple in the neighborhood where I was staying. The Shinjuku Çity Tourist Association has good downloadable walking maps with both Japanese and English so I was confident I would find the places but if I got lost in the labyrinth of small streets a local could point me in the direction to the main road.
I had no trouble finding the Yoroi Shrine with not one but two Torii gates.
The main sanctuary of the shrine.
A handsome Japanese dragon protects the purification font where one washes hands and mouth on entry to the shrine.
Next on my walk was the nearby Ensho-ji Buddhist Temple. As I entered the grounds I noticed two gardeners pruning trees. The main temple was not open to the public so I walked around the grounds. As I was leaving one of the gardeners called out, "Are the pictures you took this morning to your satisfaction?". I turned around surprised to hear someone speaking to me not only in English but very good English. This older gentleman was a retired research chemist who had been a visiting professor in the US during his career. He now spent his time caring for the garden and had even constructed a special garden for the temple which he graciously showed me.
The main building of the temple.
A guardian flying down from heaven to protect the temple perhaps.
Near the entrance to the temple's cemetery. The top figure with a sword and surrounded by fire is Fudo Myoo.
The special garden built by the gardener is in tribute to the famous zen garden at the Ryoan-ji in Kyoto. It took him three years to find the appropriate rocks for this serene and beautiful garden. The mound of rocks in the rear of the garden is volcanic and the shrine sitting on the rocks contains the same figure as in the main temple.
A closer view of the shrine on the volcanic rocks.
A rock turtle at the side of the garden. Look up the ladder and you can see the other gardener's legs in the tree.
What a good first morning in Tokyo. I felt very lucky to have met and talked with the retired chemist now gardener. He promised me another tour and hoped I would come when everything was in bloom. I told him I would try.